Bangalore: Former Citigroup Inc. banker Ramesh Ramanathan-promoted Janalakshmi Financial Services (JFS), an urban poor focused microfinance institution (MFI), has raised $10 million (Rs45.8 crore) in its second round of funding.
The round was led by Hong Kong and Singapore-based hedge fund Tree Line Asia Master Fund (Singapore) Pte Ltd and Bellwether Microfinance Fund, an existing investor in the firm. Former Morgan Stanley India Investment Fund Inc. head Narayan Ramachandran, who has joined JFS’s board, also invested in his personal capacity.
Funds matter: JFS promoter Ramesh Ramanathan. Hemant Mishra/Mint
Bangalore-based JFS, which focuses on financial inclusion of the urban poor, intends to utilize the corpus for launching its expansion plans. Currently active in six cities with around 100,000 clients, JFS has outstanding loans of Rs85 crore. Over the next year, it plans to extend operations into 35 cities, with outstanding loans of Rs300 crore.
“We are very happy to have closed our second round of funding in a very quick time. It’s a validation of our approach to addressing issues of financial inclusion in a unique social business model,” said Ramanathan.
He was referring to JFS’s unique two-tier structure, under which all promoter stakes are held in a not-for-profit holding company called Janalakshmi Social Services, while JFS is a for-profit urban MFI.
Indian MFIs have attracted strong investor interest, comprising 30% of all microfinance equity transactions in 2009, according to a new report by Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a microfinance group based at the World Bank, and JPMorgan Chase and Co., released a few days ago.
Indian MFIs have been attracting investments from an array of investors, including MFI-sector focused funds such as Aavishkaar Goodwell India Microfinance Development Co. Ltd, and venture capital and private firms such as Sequoia Capital.